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In 1924, Sergei came to the realization that [[Christ]]'s precept to love God with all of one's being was not merely a psychological thing, but ontological; that this total love was the only way to relate to God; and that love had to be a personal thing by definitional necessity. On [[Holy Saturday|Holy and Great Saturday]] of that year, he returned to Christianity. He experienced the [[Uncreated Light]] in a strength unmatched to the end of his life and, as a result, distanced himself from his artwork.
Sergei then became among the first students of the [[St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute (Paris, France)|St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute]] in Paris. He was lectured by Fr [[Sergei Bulgakov]] and [[Nicholas Berdyaev]], but while both influenced Sergei, problems with each (Bulgakov's [[sophiology]] and Berdyaev's anti-[[asceticism]]) limited the influence they had on the future Elder.
In 1925, finding formal theological study to be inherently unfulfilling, Sergei left the Institute and Paris to become a monk on [[Mount Athos]].